Sampson Again-Again, Alzolay Looked Great, Hughes, Quiroz’s Big Moment, Wisdom’s Finger, and Other Cubs Bullets

At 63-85, with 14 games remaining, last night’s win ensured that the 2022 Chicago Cubs cannot lose 100 games! POP THE CHAMPAGNNNNNNNE!!!

  • Another Adrian Sampson start, and another day saying the same thing: didn’t miss a ton of bats, but stayed in the strike zone, stayed off the barrel, and got good results. It was his third straight start of at least 6.0 innings and allowing no more than one run. He just keeps doing it. (Even his FIP, 3.75, is now better than league average!)
  • How much longer does Sampson have to do this before we say he’s gotta be locked into a 40-man spot this offseason? I don’t think there’s anything he could do to say he’s locked in an Opening Day roster spot (much less a rotation spot!), but keeping him in the organization? A guy with options remaining who has demonstrated some success in the big leagues and can swing between rotation and bullpen? Keeping him on the 40-man seems like a good idea at this point.
  • This is just kind of a fun thing:
  • Adbert Alzolay looked fantastic last night in his second two-inning outing:
  • Alzolay was once again heavy on the four-seamer and curveball last night (like his first appearance), after becoming more of a sinker-slider guy last year (which, you’ll recall, was an evolution from him PREVIOUSLY being more four- seamer and curveball heavy!). The classification systems are calling some of his curveballs a slider (at least think that’s what is happening), when it’s really just a matter of him having tightened up the curveball this year (it’s got much less drop and more velocity) – unless he’s suddenly throwing his slider much slower than last year and with a similar movement profile to a curveball…
  • So far, through two appearances and four innings, Alzolay has looked exactly like you would hope in his return from the long absence: healthy, under control, and capable of going multiple innings. Really that’s all you need to see from him through the end of the season to have confidence that, if healthy in the Spring, he can be a multi-inning weapon in your bullpen in 2023.
  • Speaking of the Cubs’ bullpen, where Brandon Hughes looked good again last night in the 9th:
  • That isn’t to say you HAVE to construct the back of your bullpen cheaply, but it is to say that the Cubs have been very successful in that area this year, even without the highest-dollar investments. They just seem to find a lot of those guys in free agency (and get the most out of them), and also are now developing them internally, too.
  • Esteban Quiroz notched his first big league hit in his first big league start last night, and was also showing off the glove:
  • “It was a very humbling experience, really,” Quiroz said of his first start, via interpreter Will Nadal, per Cubs.com. “I dreamed of this moment, I was thinking about it a lot. It’s something that I’ve worked for. … I had the three at-bats back in Chicago [and] I didn’t really perform the way that I wanted to, so I wanted to make sure I went out there and performed well. I haven’t really done anything [yet]. I’m here to work hard and do the best that I can.”
  • It’s been a long road for Quiroz, and whatever comes next, it’s just nice to see him get these moments. It’s also nice to see that, in a situation where it wasn’t going to hurt them in either direction, the Cubs chose to give a veteran like Quiroz this opportunity. We’ve discussed it before, but when it comes to attracting future minor league free agents, being known as an organization that tries to do right by those guys can only help. Plus, in general, can we all just be that way? Kind and helpful when possible?
  • Willson Contreras took on-field batting practice yesterday as he continues to recover from the ankle injury (Montemurro).
  • If you’ve noticed that Patrick Wisdom isn’t playing much, even as he’s been off the IL, it’s likely because that finger injury is still bothering him (Tribune). It’s an unfortunate issue to be dealing with in a season where the production has slipped and the glove hasn’t looked as strong, and when the Cubs have a crowded 40-man group to consider this offseason. I tend to think Wisdom is still too valuable to just punt, but it probably would’ve been helpful for him to finish on a healthy and strong note, so that the Cubs could have at least explored trade options if they wanted.
  • The vaccine requirement from the Canadian side of the border is reportedly going to be dropped at the end of this month, which would have an obvious impact on the postseason for teams that have to travel to Toronto to face the Blue Jays (assuming getting back into the United States is not an issue).
  • The Reds are coming for the Cubs’ most cherished record:

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